Are You Healthy?
By Roe Gallo, M.A.
Are you healthy? What is your answer to this question?
My cousin thought her father was healthy, and when he suddenly died of a heart attack, she was shocked. "But Roe, he stopped eating a lot of red meat, and he took his blood pressure and medicine regularly."
Meeting a friend from high school I inquired about her dad. "Oh," she said, "my dad is still the same, you remember, he never gets sick. He's 68 now and is still really healthy." But when I asked why he was living with her she said matter-of-factly, "Well, the doctors thought it would be better after this last bypass operation. This was his second and it left him pretty weak."
These are just two out of many examples of the illusions people harbor concerning their state of health. Clients tell me all the time about how healthy they are. Then, when I take their health (or, I should say illness) history, I find out they have one or more of the following: allergies, constipation, heart disease, atherosclerosis, headaches, high blood pressure, diabetes, esophogal acid reflux (heartburn), migraines, excess fat, lethargy, sleepless nights, and nervous tension. And the list only starts here!
If you have any of the above-mentioned conditions or symptoms, whether they've been diagnosed as "diseases" or not, you are not healthy! These maladies are so normal in our society that most people who suffer from them consider themselves to be healthy. The maladies cited in the above instances are very unhealthy, yet they are usually considered healthy or reasonably healthy. Reasonable health is commonly considered to mean having some or all of those conditions. But, how can you feel good, look good and have energy to do what you want to do if you are so diseased? You can't! Because of this false perception, I feel there is a need to clarify what it means to be truly healthy.
"Good health", according to Dr. Philip Maffetone in his book, " The High Performance Heart " (1994), "is a state where all your bodily systems are functioning harmoniously (p. 18)."
What does it mean to have the bodily systems functioning harmoniously? This is explained in the sixth edition of " Human Physiology " (Vander, Sherman and Luciano, 1994) as follows:
...the overall effect of the activities of organ systems is to create within the body an environment in which all cells can survive and function. This environment surrounding each cell is called the internal environment (p. 6).
The function of the body is to create and maintain an environment suifor the survival of its cells, because the health of the body is determined by the health of its cells. And healthy cells require a healthy internal environment. French physiologist Claude Bernard clearly described the central importance of the extracellular fluid. Bernard said that the purpose of the body is to preserve and keep constant the conditions of life in the internal environment (Bernard, 1957). How can you keep you internal environment healthy?
The digestive system system is primarily responsible for determining the health of the body's internal environment. The foods that you eat and drink have a major effect on your internal environment and thus your health. Fruit and green leaves are our natural and therefore most healthful foods - they nourish the body and help maintain the balance of the internal environment. Foods must be eaten raw, because cooking changes their chemical structure and appreciably or totally destroys their nutritional value. Water-rich, fresh organically-grown fruits and leafy greens are ideal foods, because they contain an abundance of the raw materials required by the body for it to synthesize vitamins and build the proteins needed to keep the cells nourished while maintaining the integrity of the internal environment.
Your internal fluids are compromised when you ingest any of (continued on page 4) Are You Healthy? (continued from page 2) the following: animal products (the only dietary source of cholesterol); salt; sugar; cooked/processed foods (roasted, steamed, fried, baked, dried, stir-fried, heated, boiled, fermented); saturated fats; chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives); and drugs (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, recreational, over-the-counter, and prescription). These are all poisons which pollute the body! A poison is any substance which is not inherent, or natural, to the state of the internal environment. What does this pollution do to your cells? It destroys them!
If you compare human cells to our planet's flora, you can see that polluted water supplies will destroy the vegetation and the planet will die. When the body's internal environment is polluted, the cells are progressively destroyed and ultimately, the body dies much sooner than would happen naturally.
Eating poisons leads to illness and, eventually, death. Being healthy, at least physiologically, means maintaining a healthy internal environment. In order to be healthy, we must make changes in our diet and lifestyle which promote the body's self-cleansing (detoxifying) capabilities, keep the internal environment free of pollution, and nourish the cells.
This brings me back to the original question, "Are you healthy?" Probably not! However, don't give up hope. The goal of this newsletter is to support you on your journey to good health. In subsequent issues, I will give you detailed information on how your food choices positively and negatively affect your body chemistry and health. I will also address psychological, emotional and spiritual health.
REFERENCES Bernard, C. "An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine". Dover, NY: Paperback, 1957.
Maffetone, P. and Mantel, M. " The High Performance Heart ". Mill Valley, CA: Bicycle Books, 1994
Vander, Sherman, Lucino. " Human Physiology ". New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1994